Tutorial: How to get a sharp square corner.

The eternal question for sewists – or at least one of them – is this:  How do you get a nice sharp corner on collars and cuffs.  Include waistbands, lined pockets and jacket revers with notched collars.  Here’s the method I use, it involves no cutting of angles at the corner, which just makes a weaker point.  I learnt this technique at a tailoring course, many years ago, and it’s worked for me!  I’m going to demonstrate by using one of the cuffs made for the Olya Shirt.  Please excuse my fluffy ironing board, and un-edited photos!

  1. Once your seams are sewn, layer them by trimming the un-interfaced seam allowance down by half.
    step 1
  2. Using the point of the iron, press the seam allowance onto the interfaced piece, nudging and pushing but be careful not to stretch anything.  Give it a good press.  You should be able to see that you have some “bulging” on the interfaced side.
    step 2
  3. Now – you want to start with the side seams of the cuff, fold the seam allowance onto the interfaced side of the piece so that you just see the stitching line.  It just needs to roll slightly up.  Now press that, well.
    step 3
  4. Once both sides are done, fold about 3-5cm of the long edge in the same way, ensuring that you get the seam allowance of the already folded side tucked sharply into the fold.  Press well again, especially on the corner where you’ll have more bulk.  On really bulky fabrics like denim or coating, you will want to get the clapper (or hammer) out and reduce bulk.  You could also shave some of the pile off fluffy coating fabrics, or cut the seam allowance at an angle, bevelling the edge.
    step 4
  5. Now, put your thumb into the cuff/collar, etc and place your forefinger on the outside, on the folded over corners, and pinch tightly.
    step 5
  6. Turn the fabric over the corner with your other hand, pushing with your forefinger into that corner to ensure as much of the fabric goes over as possible.
    step 6
  7. It’ll look something like this at this point, a bit rounded, not 100% sharp. Using a timber or plastic point turner, insert it into the cuff and gently push the corner, while pulling the fabric down to get the rest of the corner to pop out.  BE GENTLE!  And whatever you do, DON’T USE YOUR SCISSORS FOR THIS JOB!  Seriously, unless you want to be redoing the entire thing because you’ve gone and poked a hole in the fabric, leave the scissors on the table!  You might find the back of a seam ripper handy to encourage more reluctant fabrics to turn better, from the outside!
    step 7
  8. Now you can press the corner and edges again, using your fingers to manipulate the fabric.
    step 8
  9. I roll the under side slightly under so there’s no seam line showing.
    step 9
completed cuff, this is the underside of the corner.

And that’s a 90 degree corner done!  Believe it or not, the same method can be used for collars where the angle is more acute, but this time it will involve cutting some seam allowance away.  So here’s the same thing, but for the collar of the Olya Shirt.

  1. Same as above, sew seam, layer seam and press allowances onto the interfaced piece.
    step 1
  2. Press the side seams onto the interfaced side, then the long side, approx 3-4cm worth.  This time you’ll see there’s folded seam allowance sticking out beyond the folded lines.  Left like this there’s no way to get a sharp point.
    step 2
  3. We have to cut it off, but before you do, flip the piece over and check where the stitching line is, you do not want to be cutting “blind” and end up snipping the stitching!  Cut just enough of the seam allowances so none extend past the pressed fold.
    step 3
  4. Turn in the same way as for the cuff and press well.
    step 4
Completed collar corner!

 

And that’s it!!  Your first few might be a little wobbly, but persevere with the technique, it really does work and is so much better than chopping a 45 degree angle off the corner.  I’ve seen so many corners ruined with that technique as with wearing and washing the remaining tiny bit of fabric is weakened and turns to fluffy  shreds.  Good luck with your corners and edges!

P.S. if you’re using this for a pocket flap where you have a fold and a stitched side seam, just press the stitched seam onto the flap and hold it while you turn the corner.  Works well for waistbands too!

Please click on the collage photos to see them much bigger and get more detail.

Rise Above This

Ok, so the 2 for 1 jacket finally has a name!  Sometimes you just need some space and good music to get the ball really rolling.  And I have to confess to having a most bizzar collection of tunes.  The one that got my steam up was Seether’s, Rise Above This.  Does anyone else listen to music while they sew?  I cannot work when it’s quiet.  So here is the rest of the jacket.  I must also confess that I sort of lost track of taking photos as I got more and more into the making up process!  Oops!  I will be better next time, promise!

I had left of the last time at the shoulder stage, ready for the collar. The under collar is cut on the bias in two pieces, and is slightly smaller than the top collar.  If you have a pattern that uses the same pattern piece for both, trace it off and put a seamline down the centre back of the under-collar and change the grainline to bias.  Add between 2.5 and 5mm on the outside edges of the upper-collar to allow for turn of cloth.  Do not be tempted to just make the under-collar smaller.  I interfaced the under collar with weft insertion on the bias, then sewed the two together at the centre back.  To ensure a good stand, I use a fusible canvas on the under collar.  This is cut without seam allowance, on the bias.  The upper collar gets a lighter interfacing, I used the fine sheer, but if you find your collar is not keeping shape, you could reinforce with some fusible canvas.

Under collar showing interfacing, already applied to jacket neckline

I clip the neck edge of the jacket at approx. 1.5cm intervals to the stay stitch line and then pin the collar on from the centre out – from the jacket side, not the collar side.  the clipping helps to open out the curve and allows for easing.  When you sew the under-collar on, start and stop exactly on the podmark for the collar attachment on the neckline.  Next pin the upper collar to the under collar, taking care to line up the outside edges.  Because you have cut the upper larger than the lower you will have to ease the extra in.  Pin parallel to your edge, instead of perpendicular as this will help to avoid catching tucks.  Then snip the neckline edge of the facing and sew the upper collar to the facing.  There will be a teeny tiny gap at the junction of the collars and the revers.  This you hand hand-stitch closed.  Layer your collar and neckline seams and press them open over a ham.

Upper and under-collars in place, seams trimmed and pressed open

Now we come to the part where I got carried away with the making and forgot to take pictures!  With the collar done you can sew up the side seams of the jacket and do the sleeves.  The sleeve heads should be interfaced with a crescent shape, 10cm deep at the centre.  You can’t see all of this so clearly on my sleeves because I inserted a contrast pleat panel.

One piece sleeve with contrast pleat back showing interfacing on sleeve-head

And that was my run of photos!!  I will take some of the next jacket I do, from the sleeve stage onwards, promise!!  Basically from here on the sleeve seams need to be joined, and the gathering stitch on the head.  Now for jackets you can follow the normal 2 rows of gathering stitch, or try something different.  I do one line of gathering, 2cm from the edge of the fabric.  I ease the fullness along this line, making sure there is no actual gathering, no tucking or puckering.  What I am after is for the sleeve head to form the sort of shape it will have when in the armhole.  When the shape is right, I pin it into the armhole from the sleeve side.  Once the sleeve is in, I use an interfaced bias cut strip, about 5cm wide of jacket fabric and fold in half lengthways.  Then this is sew into the sleeve head to support the cap.

I was going to try to continue without pictures, but I don’t think it is working!!

Here is the finished garment!

The finished jacket.

It was a rather windy day to take photos, I kept getting hair in my eyes, or my mouth!  there are more pictures on Burdastyle, until I pop more on this blog, but they will be in their own post.

And I promise to take a better photographic record the next time! 😀

Two for One

This weekend has been pretty productive for me, I got the cushions finished and made good progress with the jacket pattern for the grey wool..  I have kept it pretty straight forward.  I have a limited amount of fabric, so I cannot go too mad on seam detailing etc.  This is the initial sketch, nothing over the top.

Jacket Sketch

Everything has gone together fairly well, I have kept to the panel seams in front and back, although I have curved the back panel seam a little, this takes it closer to the centre back seam, I am hoping it will be a visual slimming line..  But overall it didn’t have much oomphf.  I decide to something with the sleeves …

Darted Sleeve Head

Pattern for Sleeve Head - see all the alterations??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I altered the sleeve head to accommodate 3 short darts.  It took a while, and was tricky with all the layers of paper I already had going on!  This has the effect of adding about 3m to the width of the shoulders, which is great if you have no waist little waist definition.  Broadening the shoulders makes the waist appear narrower than it really is – bonus!!  I also cut the sleeves 10cm short, and kept an angled hem line.  I added 2.5cm flare to the back seam of both the upper and lower sleeve.

Jacket pattern pieces, pinned on calico to toile.

So it looks pretty good, but – the collar and rever combination appear a little small with the new sleeve-head.  I think the rever could do with being 2cm wider, and the collar needs to be adjusted so the proportions are correct.  But if I still had a “normal” sleeve-head they would be fine.

The Back

Front, see those sleeves! Fitting alterations are pinned.

This is where the “2 for 1” comes in.  I will trace off another sleeve from the sleeve block, and keep the head normal.  This will work just fine in the jacket as it is.  Then I will trace off the front panel and adjust the rever and draft a new collar.  This front & collar will be used with the big sleeve.   The rest of the jacket can stay exactly the same!  So I have two patterns – yay!!

Jacket front, seams altered.

Sorry about the fuzzy pics, I was using the self timer, and I cannot work out where to stand to be in focus!!

So what do you think of the collar & rever vs sleeve proportions??

Graphic dress

I have found something to use that wonderful silk in, thanks to Kim and Immi for their suggestions.  Mooching on Pinterest today, my eye was caught by this pretty blue number…  I had thought to change the collar though.  I really like the “Just like a stole” detail from Pattern Magic 2, so I thought I’d give that a go, and change the sleeves a little.  As summer is pretty much over here in the UK, I will want something to take me into the autumn, so I think a 3/4 sleeve will do.

Just like a Stole - Pattern Magic 2

I can’t make up my mind whether to have a plain but fitted sleeve or something with a bit of oomphf, like a sleeve with a cowl drape at the head??  I always liked this dress from Burda Style‘s December 2010 magazine.  It’s style no 102 for those who want to dig it out..

Dress with drape sleeve - BurdaStyle magazine 12/2010

I guess I had better get cracking with the paper and scissors then..  ;D